Equipment maps: Integrating new kit

One of the issues with modern DITs is that the ones starting out look at what others do and copy.

While seeing what others are doing is a good approach to take it can also result in cookie cutter approaches to delivering on-set services.

So safe in the knowledge that I can at least offer the bare minimum I like to look ahead to see how I can exceed people’s expectations. With that in mind I find myself asking one question:

What would I want?


If I was a DoP and had access to on-set colour grading facilities then what would be useful?

Creating custom looks is one typical use of the DIT but I’ve noticed that being able to call up previous footage and compare it with a live camera feed in a side by side configuration on one colour critical monitor isn’t so typical.

Usually a single image is output to a grading monitor and a router allows for that image to be switched between sources. This is easily done using live camera feeds, but doing what I described above? That takes some planning.

So how do I do that?


An equipment map is what I call it. And it is something that I sketch out by hand to enable me to visualise how to wire up equipment.

They’re a useful tool that enables me to visualise how new pieces of kit will (or will not) connect to an existing set-up.

It is particularly useful when you can’t afford to make the mistake of buying a piece of kit that may not do what you need it to do.

I can also get a solid idea of how many cables I’ll need to make it work.


In fact the above sketch was made precisely to ensure that the BoxIO (manufactured by FSI) LUT box I was eyeing up could connect with the other pieces of kit in a way that could enable me to achieve what I talked about earlier.

As you can imagine visualising it all can result in a bit of a headache, what with all the cables needed.

What did I learn?


That the sketch above would not work. Take a look below at the revised equipment map.


I’ve removed the contour I/O and secondary monitor option as that wasn’t necessary for illustrative purposes. But aside from that you’ll see the SDI cables coming out of the LUT box (and then into the monitor) are different.

I realised I had to feed the LUT’d SDI outputs from the BoxIO device into the multiviewer and feed that device’s SDI loop through outputs into the monitor.

This approach allows me to switch between a HDMI output from the multiviewer (this gives me the side by side view), the LUT’d SDI output from the camera, and the LUT’d SDI output from the Windows laptop (which pulls footage from the HDDs/storage).


NOTE:

Colour grading software like Pomfort’s Livegrade Pro supports FSI’s BoxIO device meaning that it can be controlled over IP through it’s ethernet port.

This software is exclusive to OSX systems which is why it is connected directly to the LUT box.

More info: pomfort.com/livegradepro/

Throw in a USB switch and a colour grading panel, like Tangent’s Ripple, and I can grade on different computers with just the press of a button.

So I could grade a live camera feed through Pomfort’s Livegrade Pro software on the Mac laptop and then switch back to grading the day’s dailies on the Windows laptop.

How can this be used on-set?


Aside from the typical uses of quality checking footage, grading, and exporting out dailies this set up can also be used to pull up previous day’s footage alongside the live camera feed. This allows you to match up shots and ensure continuity between them.

Alternatively with some tweaks to the set up I could take a single camera’s feed and duplicate it so it displays side by side with two separately applied LUTs, giving you options you otherwise wouldn’t have had.

Confusing? That’s why I sketch out equipment maps.

If you are interested in this kind of set-up then let me know. I plan to purchase the above equipment but will gladly speed up that process if others have need for it.